Project Practitioners > GSD - Get Stuff Done

GSD - Get Stuff Done

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes

 

An office door closes. Multiple people gather around a wooden table with notebooks and pens in front of them ready to talk about the project. An hour passes and those same people look to be in very similar poses as the last time you passed the office.

 

A sane person wonders what is happening in there. A presentation is cast along the wall with someone pointing at graphs and figures yet no one is writing anything down or barely paying attention. Another hour passes, and the scene remains eerily similar. Is anything getting done or are these people playing business?

 

The meeting finally adjourns, and more people start to file in to start the next one. This carousel of humans continues throughout the day. More talking. More planning. Where is all of the doing?

 

Ideas and concepts are created in the office that make sense on paper, but when brought to the field, have immediate complications. Filling out a form with a picture for every answer then duplicating that form into an online portal to make sure all bases are covered does not work for skilled laborers. They want to get things done. The paperwork can be all back-office activities for interns and the like.

 

Project management can be boiled down into three steps. Plan. Do. Repeat. The key step in that process is ‘Do.’ Without the doing, there is no repeating resulting in no planning. The greatest of plans can fall apart the second the action takes place.

 

You run around gathering resources because someone’s heat is out during the middle of winter only to get there and the tenant does not show up. The paving crew is scheduled for Friday, but Mother Nature decides the area needs a few inches of rain that day. Cool plan.

 

Part of not getting things done is the claim of having no time. Never enough time in the day is a classic excuse for the busiest of people. I cringe whenever someone utters those words.

 

All of these techniques for getting more done are in your control. Excuses be gone.

 

 

  1. Wake Up Earlier

This idea may seem like an obvious way of gaining more time in the day. If 8 am to 6 pm is not enough time, get up earlier. Sending emails does not have a constraint of time. You can send them at midnight, or 4 am, and people still receive them.

 

The world does not stop when you are counting sheep. Often, early in the day, the world is silent. You can focus on the tasks at hand because no cars are passing on the roadways, the dog and children are still sleeping, and birds have not started chirping.

 

Those tasks you just cannot seem to get done because people are popping into your office can finally get accomplished when the office is empty. Before the hustle and bustle of the day starts to cloud your schedule, clear those difficult to-do items.

 

  1. Implement a System

Systematically make decisions about tasks. No more guessing or flying by the seat of your pants. You have an answer for all situations. When do you answer emails? The second they come in so they interrupt your current flow or do you set aside certain times of the day specifically for emails? Blocking out times for specific activities keeps you on task.

 

Which emails do you answer first? Do you categorize emails to make sorting easier? Do you answer based on first in, first out? There are so many ways to answer emails, and that is just one of the activities of your day. Not to mention the distractions of the phone calls and pop-ins throughout your blocked out times.

 

With a system, everyone knows what you are doing when. If you answer emails three times a day for one hour each, they start to know when to expect an answer. You do not react to each alert or notification because there is a set amount of time you do this activity. You not only train yourself but others to develop a system. They can build from your blueprint and start to implement one of their own.

 

  1. Stop Multitasking

Multitasking leads to unsent emails or texts that would produce results. You have started ten tasks and completed none. I would rather complete one and never start the other nine. Having a system or blocking out time for specific tasks reduces the temptation to multitask.

 

If you have two hours set aside for invoicing, you sit down and focus on invoicing. Phone calls are answered on a priority basis. Emails get pushed until the next block of time to answer. Invoicing is your only focus.

 

You can systematically knock out tasks by not multitasking. Multitasking seems more productive because look at all of the balls you are juggling when in reality you are accomplishing very little.

 

  1. Eliminate

Use the 80/20 technique to scale down your tasks. Not everything needs to be done, and some to-do list items never need to be done. What makes the greatest impact on moving the project forward? Find those activities, list them, and focus your attention towards them.

 

Doing less while producing more sounds counterintuitive. How can you eliminate tasks yet get more done? One, you are saving time to focus on those impactful tasks. Two, your once daunting to-do list becomes more manageable. Lastly, you are getting more for less.

 

Addition by subtraction is another way of looking at it. Instead of a problem team member who is eliminated, you are eliminating those problem tasks that carryover for way too long. Sure, lunch with a customer or vendor may seem like great customer service, but even better is continuing to provide them with work, so both parties win. The doing portion of your relationship is more important than the acting like you are doing.

 

 

Takeaways

Get stuff done. Project managers get in the trap of always planning. Looking six steps ahead and trying to predict the future when nothing has happened. In times of peace, it is nice to plan, but these plans may look very different once the action begins.

 

If you find yourself not having enough time, create it by waking up earlier or staying up later. Everyone gets the same 24 hour period to accomplish goals. If 12 hours is not enough, make it 13 by setting your alarm an hour earlier.

 

You can have a system for everything. Implement a sleep schedule. Implement blocks of time to focus on singular tasks. Develop a way to answer emails where it is a template rather than a new thought every time. Track this system and tweak as necessary.

 

Have a singular focus when it comes to tasks. Rather than balancing everything at once, knock out each item on the list until inbox zero is met. Having ten emails opened at the same time does not make them quicker to respond to. It just clouds the computer screen and makes a manageable task look impossible.

 

Lastly, eliminate stuff. Not everything needs to get done for the project to be completed. Certain aspects of a project have a way of working themselves out. Not every conflict is important. Not every delay is critical. Pick and choose what to spend your time on, and once something is eliminated, keep it in the trash.

 

Most importantly, get stuff done.

 

https://www.crcpress.com/The-Entrepreneurial-Project-Manager/Cook/p/book/9781498782357



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